My local High Street boasts four national banks and a handful of building societies. Until recently, that is. Two of the building societies (Santander and Halifax) have recently closed and the branch of the bank where I hold my main account (HSBC) is closing this week, meaning I shall have to go further afield to do any in-bank transactions or speak to a real person.
Over the weekend, I had been going through my wardrobe and throwing out quite a lot of clothes I had not used in a decade or three - always hoping some items might come back into fashion, but now accepting that I would never wear them again. In so doing, I came upon a single suit of Greg's that I had hung on to out of sentimental reasons and decided now was the time to give it away to charity. As I checked through the pockets I found an old £5 note.
Today, while I was in the High Street, I tried to exchange the old £5 note for a valid one. I decided to pop into my bank for one last time, before it closes its doors. Sadly, my bank told me that whilst it would still be valid to exchange it, they no longer had the counter services to do so , just machines to pay in, machines to pay out and machines to do minor transactions, so they could not help. I went to two other banks who said exactly the same. They no longer have counter services and only machines and therefore could not exchange the £5, although in theory they were still accepting them. They advised me to to go to a bigger bank in a busier part of London that still has counter services.
I read in the newspaper the other day that by 2027 cash will more than likely be phased out completely. Too many transactions are done now by debit card or credit card and since the pandemic, cards have become more and more the way to pay. Transactions are done online and there is no need for real money. It is fine for me as I am computer savvy, but for many elderly people it will cause immense problems.
It got me musing that in future the grandchildren will not only ask, "Did you see any dinosaurs when you were little , Granny?" but also "Did you really pay for things with little metal coins and paper notes?" We have had cash for centuries and centuries, but it seems modern technology will eradicate that entirely.